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Old 04-02-2012, 10:18 PM   #31
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Thank you for sharing this. This ABD is number one on my list of all of them. Although I must say that that last comment about the bathrooms does scare this small bladdered girl...
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #32
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Loving the pictures! I've been to China three times before, one for fun and two to adopt our son and daughter. We are returning in three months for a homeland tour sponsored by the Chinese government! My kids actually travel free! This is the second time China has ever done such a trip!

The internet situation is interesting in China. Glad to hear you can get on the DIS!
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:16 PM   #33
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Loving the pictures! I've been to China three times before, one for fun and two to adopt our son and daughter. We are returning in three months for a homeland tour sponsored by the Chinese government! My kids actually travel free! This is the second time China has ever done such a trip!

The internet situation is interesting in China. Glad to hear you can get on the DIS!
Looking at your signature line. Are you on the ABD China trip 7/15? If so, we'll be with you!
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:27 PM   #34
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Nope, going on a homeland tour through the department of adoption in China. They started a grant program for adopted chinese children to return for a tour that includes the usual tourist sites, plus adoptees foster families, orphanages, and finding site visits.

The ABD trip looks amazing! Guilin is my favorite place on Earth...you will fall in love with China!
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:10 PM   #35
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Some thoughts to those going on this trip later. The guides know where the "four star" toilets are. . However, it's evident right away that 4 stars is not what most western cultures would consider 4 stars.

Our first pit stop in the Forbidden City involved a restroom with many squat toilets and only 2 sit down ones. This is where the tour group women bond. There is NO toilet paper. Before I left home, my mom laughed when I deconstructed a roll of toilet paper and put them in ziplocks. Ha! Came in handy yesterday. So my advice is always have tissues or do what I did... Take the cardboard roll out of a toilet paper roll and you can have the comforts of home.

My mom went to the toilet at the Summer Palace and walked straight out. She said it was a trench!
And I scratch China off the places to go list.

I'm so the ugly American I guess. I was even horrified by the Pete's reports of the Disneyland Paris' bathrooms. The things we take for granted. And what a diversity of culture.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:23 AM   #36
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We really take for granted western toilets and tp. One of my most memorable travel experiences was in a bathroom in Russia. Nothing more than a trench, no such thing as stalls. There was a little old lady in a corner selling sheets of magazines to use as tp. She just stood there as I tried to do my business.

It's very difficult to both pull down your pants, yet pull up your pant legs. I bet she still talks about that funny American who gave up and just took off her pants.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:04 AM   #37
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thank you so much for posting about your adventure!

I'm glad you had a wonderful experiance with Air Canada. I have never flown with them because I had a bad experiance with rude Air Canada employees when I worked at the airport years ago and I told one of the employees that I would never fly with their airline. It's great to hear that your flight crew was very nice and went out of their way to make you comfortable and have as much fun as you can on such a long flight!

Susan
Air Canada ground agents are notoriously difficult, but the crews in the air are usually very nice.

the ground agents seem to think that smiling is not part of their job description, but in the air, the staff is completely different.

Don't let the "think inside the box" ground agents deter you from their flights.
And if you fly business class, theirs is very nice (what they call 'executive first').
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:14 AM   #38
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And I scratch China off the places to go list.

I'm so the ugly American I guess. I was even horrified by the Pete's reports of the Disneyland Paris' bathrooms. The things we take for granted. And what a diversity of culture.
i think everyone should go to china at least once (and japan, vietnam, thailand, hong kong and the rest of asia).
It's so completely different from anything you will ever experience.
Not to mention beautiful.
But there are lots of beautiful places in the world, but culturally asia is so different (and the asian countries different from each other).

And if you're going, probably a very nice way to go is with ABD. Based on the hotel this group is staying in, it's clear they put you in the best of the best.
And with ABD running interference for you, you'll enjoy it much more so than if you try to do china on your own.

We do go on our own because we go there on business. China is one of the more difficult countries to navigate on your own (for a whole host of reasons).
Which is why an organized tour is definitely the way to see it comfortably.
And based on what i've read here so far, clearly ABD is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a taste of china.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:49 AM   #39
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Well, I had a nice wordy report but the dodgy wifi at the airport ate it up. We're waiting for our flight to Chengdu.

ABD is the way to travel to China if you are nervous about toilets and food. They chec kout everything and you know that the food they give you is safe and the toilets are within reason. Yesterday, our bus was caught in a traffic jam in the countryside and we made a highway pit stop. The guides warned us that this was not a "happy house" so only go if you were desperate. So far, the guides have taken extremely good care of all of us.

I'll try to post about yesterday's trip to the Great Wall and today's pedicab tour of the Hutong when I get a more reliable connection.

BTW, I've only managed to connect here by using my Boingo mobile account. It works here!
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:41 AM   #40
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Well, I had a nice wordy report but the dodgy wifi at the airport ate it up. We're waiting for our flight to Chengdu.

ABD is the way to travel to China if you are nervous about toilets and food. They chec kout everything and you know that the food they give you is safe and the toilets are within reason. Yesterday, our bus was caught in a traffic jam in the countryside and we made a highway pit stop. The guides warned us that this was not a "happy house" so only go if you were desperate. So far, the guides have taken extremely good care of all of us.

I'll try to post about yesterday's trip to the Great Wall and today's pedicab tour of the Hutong when I get a more reliable connection.

BTW, I've only managed to connect here by using my Boingo mobile account. It works here!
That's one reason I was quite happy to take the ABD add-on in the Med. Italy, while apparently not as bad as China in the toilet department, is not what I'm used to (Even some of the nice bathrooms, you have a toilet, but there's no seat on the bowl! And other places just have the squat toilets.) ABD is really good at finding the best bathrooms available. I freely admit I'm a spoiled American, and don't really want to get *that* authentic when it comes to the bathroom!

Really looking forward to your reports on the Great Wall and your pedicab tour! They sound wonderful.

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Old 04-04-2012, 10:39 AM   #41
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I freely admit I'm a spoiled American, and don't really want to get *that* authentic when it comes to the bathroom!

Sayhello
Preaching to the choir over here!
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:05 AM   #42
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Well, I had a nice wordy report but the dodgy wifi at the airport ate it up. We're waiting for our flight to Chengdu.

ABD is the way to travel to China if you are nervous about toilets and food. They chec kout everything and you know that the food they give you is safe and the toilets are within reason. Yesterday, our bus was caught in a traffic jam in the countryside and we made a highway pit stop. The guides warned us that this was not a "happy house" so only go if you were desperate. So far, the guides have taken extremely good care of all of us.

I'll try to post about yesterday's trip to the Great Wall and today's pedicab tour of the Hutong when I get a more reliable connection.

BTW, I've only managed to connect here by using my Boingo mobile account. It works here!
Our non-ABD guides did the same for us on our trip to China. All of the Chinese guides there know what is acceptable to the Westerners. I laughed when you said that they call them 4 star bathrooms. Our guides rated them like that too although I would have shaved off a few stars. One good thing is that the airport bathrooms are usually spotless.
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:48 AM   #43
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Enjoy Chengdu! Are you hugging a panda? We have that option on our trip.
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:55 AM   #44
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Enjoy Chengdu! Are you hugging a panda? We have that option on our trip.
It's not a Disney sanctioned event. Disney belongs to the zoological society or something like that and they frown on that sort of thing. However, we are given the option to do it if we want and if we're willing to pay. The guides take off their Disney hats when they talk to us about it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #45
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Day 3 of the Adventure

The morning started at 8 am again and our group was off to the Great Wall at 8:00 sharp. A ride through the highways and countryside as our guides told us about the area, the history and we listened to Disney music.

We did a bathroom break at the Schoolhouse, where we were going to eat lunch, because there were no bathrooms up on the wall. The Schoolhouse is run by Americans who moved to China a while ago. They have a restaurant and a glassblowing workshop. They also had 2 sit down and clean toilets. Alas, the water for the sink was iffy and we had to wait for the water to flow for some of us. After that, we headed up the hill. The bus parked and Daisy and our two shadow guides (Joe and Steven) ran ahead to get tickets for the cable car up the hill. The guides told us to take sour time going up to the cable car station and NOT to buy anything until after coming back down. They also gave us a lesson on how to barter.

Rode the cable car up and climbed some really steep steps. They assembled us up top and took a group photo. And I'm going to omit a bunch of stuff now because you guys need to experience it yourself

We were given a time to head back to the assembly area where we had entered the wall. Alas, I wasn't paying attention and ended up going too far down. I looked out and saw the cable cars above my position. I had to climb a very steep portion back... I nearly killed myself doing it!!! As I struggled up the wall, the Chinese people were shouting encouragement to me (or they were jeering me... I've got no clue). At some point I looked up and saw Daisy waving at me. I waved back but it still took me about 15 minutes to get back there. My legs were like jelly and Jannae hugged me when I reconnected with the group. hahaha. What a day already. When we got back down to where all the vendors were, Jennae bought me a coke and a pin as a reward for climbing the most of everybody.

Lunch was at the Schoolhouse and we also had a demo of noodle making. We all got a chance to make some. They wouldn't let us use the big cleaver though ... Even the kids asked for it. We also got a demo on glass blowing. nd a chance to buy some magnificent art. My mom bought two glass swans.

We got onto the bus to head back to Beijing but there was a huge traffic jam. A big green bus was blocking the road for everybody. The bus driver didn't know how to drive through a very narrow part of the road (a disabled car was partially blocking it). Daisy, Steven and Joe headed out to talk to the bus driver while Jennae entertained us with some really bad cow jokes. Finally the bus in front moved and traffic was moving again. Apparently, Daisy told the other bus driver to let our driver drive his bus for him and this shamed the guy into moving.

Traffic was really bad heading back to the city. It was the second day of the tomb sweeping holiday. It was a free night for us and dinner was on our own. Unfortunately, the restaurants suggested by the guides were packed to the gills because of the holiday. We ended up at a ramen noodle place in a nearby mall. Afterwards we headed to the night market to see if we could find somebody eating bugs. Hahaha... We found a girl from Spain who ate a bug of some kind. Ewwwwwwww.

Next report on the pedicab tour...but it's time to sleep. It's been a heck of a long day.
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